Bloomberg Business’ blaring headline today gives us pause for thought: Indonesian Stocks Tumble Most Since 2013 Following Executions.
Investment flows toward markets with stability, Rule of Law, and solid relationships with the larger international community. The Rule of Law issue here is at the crux of many of Indonesia’s problems, and the country’s failure to maintain Rule of Law is almost entirely due to a tacit acceptance of rampant corruption at all levels as “the way things work here”. This must change.
Recent revelations by attorney, M. Rifan regarding price negotations with the judges in Myuram Sukumaran’s trial and sentencing, highlight this problem. And I have witnessed and felt very personally, its mechanisms and effects, most recently in the trial of three criminals who brutally attacked me in my own home, three times, using groups of paid thugs, but were declared “innocent” of all charges in criminal court. The thugs who filled the courthouse served to demonstrate that “deals” made with courts and prosecutors come with enforcers.
I have encountered the same tacit acceptance of Mob Rules and domination of the black economy here, throughout the past three years at almost every juncture. Most brashly, when a bribe price of $300,000 was quoted via several channels, to allow me to walk free from a drug arrest engineered by a network of miscreants in an attempt to jail me so they could take over my home for profit. I called the bluff. I did not pay anyone anything. And I did walk free. Because I am innocent, and not because I paid. This is so rare an occurrence, it was regarded with incredulity on both the dark side of the law, and the light one.
Recently, it has become all too clear that dirty money and intimidation rule in Indonesia, not the veneer-thin facade of the state and its institutions. Muscles, money, guns and drugs are in charge here, sadly. The execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, and the bizarre processes of “justice” leading up to it over the past decade have simply made that more starkly clear than ever, to a far wider world.
If what M. Rifan has revealed is true (and we have no reason to think that it is not), then Myuran and Andrew were not put to death for transporting drugs, they were put to death for not paying for their lives. Drug offenses, evidently, do not carry a death penalty here. But being unable or unwilling to pay bribes does. Your money or your life.
The entire world is seeing this now, in their face, on their screens, and at their breakfast tables, due to the high visibility of the executions of Myuran and Andrew. Economic impacts are inevitable, and will be felt most by the hundreds of millions of normal Indonesians, who struggle to keep their families safe and well, with food on the table. The executions matter, having exposed Indonesia’s severe challenges to achieving Rule of Law, and damaged its relationships with partner economies.
“It’s difficult to find anything much positive to mention on the political or economic front in Indonesia of late,” said Michael Every, head of financial markets research at Rabobank Group in Hong Kong. The executions aren’t “foreign investor friendly.”